Carl Hétu is CNEWA’s national director in Canada.
I am currently in the Holy Land with Archbishop Richard Smith, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. We are participating in an annual visit to the Holy Land, where bishops from Europe and North America meet with the local Christian community.
On our first day, we headed up to northern Jordan, about a one-hour drive from the capital of Amman, where we were scheduled to meet with Syrian refugees living in camps.
Six months ago, there was only a handful of refugees, but today there are over 100,000 registered people there who have fled the war, the shelling, and the violence that is unbearable for families. They are living in tents with barely the minimum to survive.
The camp we were supposed to visit has about 60,000 people. But on arriving in Amman, we learned that the army had to cancel our visit.The reason? Weather. The wind and rain, along with terrible living conditions, had made life so hard in the refugee camps that the army was expecting riots. The Jordanian government and nongovernmental groups and charities like Caritas and CNEWA are doing their best to help, but resources are few, conditions tough, and people are tired, stressed and fed up. Who wouldn’t be, in similar conditions? But there are no other choices for now. Without aid, life would be much worse.
Today was a typical cold winter day, with heavy rain and strong winds. In Jordan, where water is scarce, it is considered a blessing. But for refugees living in tents, water is a curse.
I just can’t imagine how these poor people left violence to end up in a camp zone they can’t leave — where mud, wind and cold will define everyday living for weeks to come. My only comfort is knowing that, thanks to generous North American Catholics, CNEWA is providing winter kits with heaters, blankets and food.
Any help you can provide is a blessing for these refugees and gives them hope for better things to come.